Tammy Levent | August 10, 2016 12:00 PM ET
Agent to Agent: Navigating Tricky Hotel Fees
Dear Tammy: My client recently encountered a unique situation. After checking into her hotel, the hotel double billed her for her entire stay! My client isn’t rich and saved up for this particular trip, so to wipe out twice as much money from her checking account as they should have was devastating for my client. It took the bank and the hotel two days to work together and get it reversed, but I can’t imagine if her money had been tighter or if a bill she had to pay had come in and bounced her account while she was on vacation, leaving her with an inability to use her debit card. Scary! What are your thoughts?
Tammy: Absurd. Ridiculous. Illogical. Those are just some of my thoughts. I understand that computer glitches happen, but from my understanding of your client’s story, this wasn’t the first time it happened with this particular hotel chain. Unfortunately, it also goes to show any traveler that they need to be prepared for any potential problems that may happen while traveling.
But let’s back up a second because not only can crazy stuff like this happen, but booking a hotel room is already a complicated process. First, there’s the refundable vs. non-refundable issue. In order to book a room at a lower-than-advertised rate, hotels demand a non-refundable up-front payment. Consumers who aren’t watching carefully may not realize that this is non-refundable until it is too late. Then there’s the partial refund a traveler may, and I mean may, receive if the room is not satisfactory – a partial refund for a room you didn’t even use? Even stores let you return an item within a certain period of time if you haven’t used it and the tags are still on it.
There are the inconsistent cancellations policies as well. One hotel wants a cancellation within 24 hours before you arrive, while others have a two or three-day cancellation policy.
There is the charge for incidentals as well. This can range from $25 for one hotel to $200 for another hotel. Again, these fees are inconsistent and inexperienced travelers who are on a budget and have decided to travel to several hotels in one trip can get hit with hundreds of dollars in fees. The bank puts the fees on hold and they often are not returned to the customer for days. Hopefully, the traveler has enough money in their budget to cover the fees and knew about them ahead of time. If they didn’t, it can completely wreck their budget and their vacation.
However, your client’s experience was an exception and things happen, but unfortunately it cost that hotel chain a customer, especially since the hotel is still working out the kinks to their system. Your client took to twitter and got the problem rectified, but if hotels do not want bad publicity like this, they should make sure their systems are user friendly and working well. Hotels should be doing everything they can to entice the traveler to book there, not repel them. The best thing that a traveler can do is work with a travel agent who can make sure that the consumer has all aspects of their trip covered.
More by Tammy Levent
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Latest Travel News
Airlines & Airports
Airlines & Airports
Hotel & Resort
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship